Atrios wants to know why the Bush Assministration wishes to put six major ports in the United States under the control of the United Arab Emirates.
Les Kinsolving asked Scottie the same question yesterday.
Q Scott, I have a two-part. The government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has approved a deal that will put six major ports in the United States under the control of a state-sponsored company based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. And my question: Knowing, as we do, that the Arab Emirate was tied in many ways to the 9/11 hijackers and their deeds, and knowing the critical nature of port security and protecting the nation, will the President step in and stop this deal from going into effect March 2nd?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, my understanding, Les, is that this went through the national security review process under CFIUS, at the Department of Treasury. That is the agency that is responsible for overseeing such matters. And this includes a number of national security agencies — the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Justice, among others, and there is a rigorous review that goes on for proposed foreign investments for national security concerns. And in terms of specifics relating to this, Treasury is the chair of this and you should direct those questions to Treasury.
While Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle are trying to stop this crazy scheme.
The Bush administration is defending approval of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over operations at six major American ports, even as one senator sought a new ban on companies owned by governments overseas in some U.S. shipping operations.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., told The Associated Press he will introduce legislation to prohibit companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from running port operations in the United States. Menendez said his proposal would effectively block state-owned Dubai Ports World from realizing gains from its purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.
The British company, the world’s fourth-largest ports company, runs significant commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
“We wouldn’t turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can’t afford to turn our ports over to one, either,” Menendez said.
Lawmakers asked the White House to reconsider its earlier approval, saying the United Arab Emirates is not consistent in its support of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts.
“The potential threat to our country is not imagined, it is real,” Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., said Thursday in a House speech.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., also objected to the deal. He said Philadelphia has been designated a “strategic port” for the movement of military material, and that he has sent President Bush a letter urging him to prevent the sale.
The administration defended its decision. The sale was “rigorously reviewed” by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry, said National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones.
Besides Menendez, four senators and three House members pressed the administration to reconsider. They said the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. They also said the UAE was one of only three countries to recognize the now-toppled Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government.
Critics also have cited the UAE’s history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., urged congressional hearings.
“At a time when America is leading the world in the war on terrorism and spending billions of dollars to secure our homeland, we cannot cede control of strategic assets to foreign nations with spotty records on terrorism,” Fossella said.